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Jana Novotná

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Jana Novotná
Novotná in 1996
Country (sports) Czechoslovakia (1987–1992)
 Czech Republic (1993–1999)
Born(1968-10-02)2 October 1968
Brno, Czechoslovakia
(now Czech Republic)
Died19 November 2017(2017-11-19) (aged 49)
Czech Republic
Height1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Turned pro1987
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize money$11,249,284
Int. Tennis HoF2005 (member page)
Career record571–225
Career titles24
Highest rankingNo. 2 (7 July 1997)
Grand Slam singles results
Australian OpenF (1991)
French OpenSF (1990, 1996)
WimbledonW (1998)
US OpenSF (1994, 1998)
Other tournaments
Tour FinalsW (1997)
Career record697–153
Career titles76
Highest rankingNo. 1 (27 August 1990)
Grand Slam doubles results
Australian OpenW (1990, 1995)
French OpenW (1990, 1991, 1998)
WimbledonW (1989, 1990, 1995, 1998)
US OpenW (1994, 1997, 1998)
Other doubles tournaments
Tour FinalsW (1995, 1997)
Mixed doubles
Career titles4
Grand Slam mixed doubles results
Australian OpenW (1988, 1989)
French Open2R (1992)
WimbledonW (1989)
US OpenW (1988)
Team competitions
Fed CupW (1988)
Hopman CupW (1994)
Medal record
Women's tennis
Olympic Games
Representing  Czechoslovakia
Silver medal – second place 1988 Seoul Doubles
Representing  Czech Republic
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta Doubles
Bronze medal – third place 1996 Atlanta Singles

Jana Novotná (Czech pronunciation: [ˈjana ˈnovotnaː]; 2 October 1968 – 19 November 2017) was a Czech professional tennis player. She played a serve and volley game, an increasingly rare style of play among women during her career.[1][2] Novotná won the women's singles title at Wimbledon in 1998, and was runner-up in three other majors. Novotná also won 12 major women's doubles titles (completing a double career Grand Slam), four major mixed doubles titles, and three Olympic medals. She reached a career-high singles ranking of world No. 2 in 1997, and held the No. 1 ranking in doubles for 67 weeks.[3]


Novotná turned professional in February 1987.[4] She was known primarily for her success as a doubles player in the early years of her career. Novotná began to have success in singles in the early 1990s, once four-time Grand Slam singles champion Hana Mandlíková became her coach. Mandlíková coached her for nine years.[5] Her earlier coach was Mike Estep.[6]


At the 1990 French Open, Novotná, seeded 11th, achieved her best results in Grand Slam singles play up until that point. Having reached the round of 16, she faced Argentinian Gabriela Sabatini (seeded fourth). In their four previous meetings Sabatini got the better of her three times, including two straight-set wins. This time proved to be different, as Novotná turned the tables on her. Although Novotná had disposed of Sabatini, she would have to face yet another difficult opponent in the quarterfinals, Katerina Maleeva (seeded eighth) from Bulgaria. In their two previous meetings Novotná had lost both times, and after Maleeva won the opening set, it appeared Novotná was about to lose to her for a third consecutive time; however, she recovered and eventually won. Despite her success, Novotná's toughest test would be against top-seeded Steffi Graf of Germany in the semifinals. When Novotná had faced her three years earlier at the 1987 French Open, Graf won in straight sets. Now, Graf again defeated her without dropping a set.[6] She qualified for the first time for the season-ending Virginia Slims Championships in which she was beaten in the first round by Sabatini.[7] She finished the year ranked No. 13.[6]


Novotná enjoyed an excellent start to the 1991 season at the Australian Open, where she was seeded tenth and beat Zina Garrison-Jackson 7–6, 6–4 in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinal. The path to the final became considerably more difficult, as Novotná had to contend with top-seeded Steffi Graf in the quarterfinal encounter. In their ten previous meetings, Novotná had lost each time against Graf.[8]

However, this time Novotná achieved the upset of her life by defeating Graf, the reigning champion of the last three years, 5–7, 6–4, 8–6.[9] Now just one win away from her first-ever Grand Slam final, Novotná had to stop Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the semifinals to get there; this she did, setting up a showdown against Monica Seles in the final. Seles eventually won in three sets.[10][11] At the end of the year Novotná was ranked No. 7.[6]


Two years later, at Wimbledon, Novotná's game hit full stride, as she played some of her finest tennis ever. But for Novotná (seeded eighth) to capture the title, her path would have to go through Sabatini (seeded fourth), Martina Navratilova (seeded second) and top-seeded Steffi Graf. Going into her quarterfinal against Sabatini, Novotná had lost six consecutive matches against the Argentine. This time, she took Sabatini apart in straight sets, prevailing 6–4, 6–3. Novotná then set her sights on a semifinal clash against Martina Navratilova, who had won each of their previous five matches. However, Novotná defeated Navratilova, setting up the Championship match against Graf. After losing a tight first set, Novotná took the second set and then had a game point serving at 4–1 in the third set.[12] With victory seemingly within her grasp, she lost her nerve, double-faulted, and allowed Graf to recover.[13] Graf took the next five games and the title. During the prize presentation ceremony, a distraught Novotná burst into tears and cried on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder.[12] The Duchess comforted her.[14] Novotná achieved a year-end ranking of No. 6.[6]

Novotná hitting a slice backhand


She began the 1994 season by reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. In her quarterfinal match, she played Gabriela Sabatini, in what turned out to be their last head-to-head encounter. In their previous meeting, on the grasscourts at the 1993 Wimbledon Championships, Novotná beat Sabatini in a straight-set quarterfinal victory. This time, on the Australian hardcourts, Sabatini defeated Novotná in straight sets. At the French Open, Novotná was beaten in the first round by Anna Smashnova in straight sets. At Wimbledon, Novotná reached the quarterfinals where she again faced Martina Navratilova in a rematch from the previous year. Novotná lost in three sets. At the season's final Grand Slam, the US Open, the seventh seeded Novotná worked her way to the semifinals where she played top-seeded Steffi Graf. Dating back to the 1992 French Open, Novotná had lost nine consecutive matches against Graf. This trend would continue as Graf defeated Novotná in straight sets.


It took four years for Novotná to reach another Wimbledon final. In 1997, she faced top-seeded Martina Hingis, and lost in three sets. But to get back to the final, Novotná had to get past Mary Joe Fernández in the round of 16. She outlasted Fernandez then defeated Yayuk Basuki of Indonesia in the quarterfinals in straight sets. Now back in the semifinals of Wimbledon, her next opponent would be Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. She had prevailed against Novotná in seven of their nine previous contests, but the majority of those matches were played on clay and hard-courts, at which Sánchez Vicario excelled.[citation needed]

On grass, Novotná had a decided advantage, as she defeated Sánchez Vicario in straight sets. In the final against Hingis, she started out fast, taking the opening set 6–2.[15] But Hingis found her stroke and won the second set 6–3 to even the match at one set apiece.[15] The final set proved to be a mirror image of the second set, as Hingis prevailed 6–3, handing Novotná her second loss in a Wimbledon Championship match.[16][17]

However, Novotná won the Tour Championships after a victory in the final over Mary Pierce and finished the year ranked a career-high world No. 2 in singles.[18] In addition to winning the Tour Championships, Novotná captured three more WTA singles titles for the year.[19]

1998: Wimbledon victory[edit]

Her moment of Wimbledon success finally arrived in 1998. After defeating Venus Williams in a close quarterfinal, Novotná avenged the previous year's loss by ousting Martina Hingis in the semifinal in straight sets.[20] She won the singles title by defeating veteran Nathalie Tauziat in the final in two sets.[21][22] She became the oldest first-time Grand Slam singles winner in the Open Era at age 29 years and nine months.[23] This record would be eclipsed by Francesca Schiavone in 2010 when she won the French Open at 29 years and eleven months and again by Flavia Pennetta when she won the US Open in 2015 at 33 years and six months.

Novotná won 12 Grand Slam women's doubles titles[24] (four at Wimbledon, three at the French Open, three at the US Open, and two at the Australian Open) and four mixed-doubles titles (two at the Australian Open, one at Wimbledon, and one at the US Open).

Novotná was a member of the Czechoslovakian team that won the Fed Cup in 1988.[25] At the Olympic Games she was a women's doubles silver medalist in 1988 and 1996, and a singles bronze medalist in 1996.[26]

She won titles on all four surfaces and crossed the $10 million mark in career prize money in 1998, the fifth player to reach the milestone. She won more than 500 career singles matches, the 15th woman in the Open Era to accomplish the feat.[citation needed]

Novotná was named the 1998 WTA Tour Doubles Team of the Year with Martina Hingis, the 1997 International Tennis Federation Doubles Team of the Year with Lindsay Davenport, the 1996 WTA Tour Doubles Team of the Year with Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, with Gigi Fernández in 1991 and in 1989 and 1990 with Helena Suková.[citation needed]

Later years and death[edit]

Novotná retired from the professional tour in 1999.[27] During her 14-year career, she won 104 titles (24 in singles, 76 in women's doubles and 4 in mixed doubles).[23] She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.[24]

From 2000 to 2002, Novotná was a commentator for Wimbledon for the BBC.[28] From 2006 onward, Novotná played the Ladies' Invitation Doubles tournament at Wimbledon; winning it in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2014.[29][circular reference] In 2010, her partner was Martina Navratilova. Also in 2010, she helped Navratilova through her treatment for breast cancer.[25] She played invitational doubles in the other Grand Slams as well and also did charity events and exhibitions.[30] She continued to coach players, including Grand Slam champion Barbora Krejčíková.[25]

Novotná lived in Florida until 2010, when she returned to her native Czech Republic. She bought a house and property in the village of Omice, near her hometown of Brno, where she lived with her partner, former Polish tennis player Iwona Kuczyńska.[31][32][33] She died of cancer on 19 November 2017 at the age of 49.[34] She chose to keep her diagnosis of cancer private, only telling her closest friends and relatives.[30]

Grand Slam performance timelines[edit]

(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.


Czechoslovakia Czech Republic
Tournament 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 W–L
Australian Open A NH A 1R 3R 3R F 4R 2R QF 4R A A A 3R 23–9
French Open A 1R 3R 1R QF SF QF 4R QF 1R 3R SF 3R QF 4R 38–14
Wimbledon A 1R 4R 2R 4R QF 2R 3R F QF SF QF F W QF 50–13
US Open A Q2 4R 1R 2R QF 4R 1R 4R SF QF QF QF SF 3R 38–13
Career statistics
Year-end ranking 306 171 47 35 11 13 7 10 6 4 11 5 2 3 NR 149–49


Tournament 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 SR W–L
Australian Open NH A QF SF W F QF QF SF W A A A 3R 2 / 9 36–7
French Open 2R 3R A SF W W SF F A F SF 3R W QF 3 / 12 48–9
Wimbledon Q1 2R 3R W W F F F F W QF QF W SF 4 / 13 56–8
US Open A 3R 3R 3R F F F 2R W QF F W W 3R 3 / 13 49–10
Win–loss 1–1 5–3 7–3 16–3 23–1 21–3 17–4 14–4 15–2 20–2 12–3 11–2 18–0 11–4 12 / 47 189–34
Career statistics
Year-end ranking 137 24 13 5 2 1 4 4 4 2 3 6 3 NR

Mixed doubles[edit]

Czechoslovakia Czech Republic
Tournament 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 W–L
Australian Open W W A A A A A 10–0
French Open A A A A 2R A A 0–1
Wimbledon 2R W SF A QF A A 11–2
US Open W 2R A A A A F 10–2


  1. ^ Drucker, Joel. "1997 US Open Preview and Predictions". The Tennis Server.
  2. ^ "On clay, serve and volley is no folly". Reddif. 26 May 2008.
  3. ^ "Press Center". wtatennis.com. 19 April 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  4. ^ "WTA player profile – Jana Novotná". wtatennis.com.
  5. ^ Fialkov, Harvey. "Hana Mandlikova happily shifts from Grand Slam champ to tennis mom". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e John Barrett, ed. (1999). ITF World of Tennis 1999. London: Collins. pp. 339–42. ISBN 9780002188623.
  7. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1990). The International Tennis Federation : World of Tennis 1990. London: Willow Books. pp. 173–174. ISBN 9780002183550.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Kevin (20 November 2017). "Jana Novotna, former Wimbledon tennis champion, dies aged 49". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Novotna Ends Graf's Reign at Australian Open". The New York Times. Associated Press. 22 January 1991.
  10. ^ Harwitt, Sandra (27 January 1991). "Tennis; Seles Rallies Past Novotna To Win Australian Open". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Richard Finn (26 January 1991). "Seles Rallies, Tops Novotna For Australian Title". Chicago Tribune.
  12. ^ a b Nguyen, Courtney (20 November 2017). "Insider Podcast: Grit defined Jana Novotna's indelible career". WTA Tennis. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  13. ^ Lamovsky, Jesse; Rosetti, Matt; DeMarco, Charlie (2007). The Worst of Sports: Chumps, Cheats, and Chokers from the Games We Love. Ballantine Books. p. 93. ISBN 9780345498915.
  14. ^ O'Hagan, Simon (17 October 1993). "Profile: Serious intent of a 'choker' – Jana Novotna". The Independent.
  15. ^ a b "Today in Sports". Clarion-Ledger. 5 July 2017. p. C4. Retrieved 20 November 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ Bill Glauber (6 July 1997). "For Hingis, 16 so sweet at Wimbledon". The Baltimore Sun.
  17. ^ Robin Finn (6 July 1997). "Wimbledon Is Latest Landmark in the Hingis Era". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Bill Berkrot (25 November 1997). "Novotna Takes Chase Over Pierce". The Moscow Times.
  19. ^ "Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies aged 49". The Hindu. Reuters. 20 November 2017. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  20. ^ Robin Finn (3 July 1988). "Tennis; Novotna Ousts Hingis to Meet a Finalist Her Own Age". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Jennifer Frey (5 July 1998). "It's Final: Novotna Wins Wimbledon". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ Lisa Dillman (5 July 1998). "Novotna Wipes Away Wimbledon Sorrows". Los Angeles Times.
  23. ^ a b Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). New York: New Chapter Press. pp. 620–621. ISBN 978-0942257700.
  24. ^ a b "Jana Novotná". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  25. ^ a b c Hovet, Jason; Chadband, Ian (20 November 2017). "Wimbledon champion Novotna dies after battle with cancer". Reuters. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  26. ^ "Jana NOVOTNÁ – Olympic Tennis | Czech Republic". International Olympic Committee. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  27. ^ Bricker, Charles (12 December 1999). "Changeover Shows ATP Miles Ahead". South Florida Sun Sentinel. p. 36. Retrieved 20 November 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ Sarah Edworthy (5 July 2000). "Wimbledon Diary: Novotna completes set with a pet". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  29. ^ 2006 Wimbledon Championships
  30. ^ a b Shriver, Pam. "Shriver: Remembering the good times with Jana Novotna". ESPN. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  31. ^ Rao, Prashant S.; Cowell, Alan (20 November 2017). "Jana Novotna, Czech Winner of Wimbledon, Dies at 49". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  32. ^ "Jana Novotná obituary". The Guardian. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  33. ^ Janicek, Karel (20 November 2017). "Former Wimbledon tennis champion Jana Novotna dies at 49". Toronto Star. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  34. ^ "Jana Novotna: Former Wimbledon champion dies at age of 49". BBC News. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.

External links[edit]